Despite warm weather, PCMR and Deer Valley executives express optimism in advance of Park City’s ski season
Park City is winter’s favorite town, according to a slogan the Park City Chamber/Bureau’s uses to market ski vacations to out-of-state visitors.
The area’s business community likely wishes the season would show its love by arriving sooner rather than later.
The Chamber/Bureau held its annual fall tourism forum to kick off the ski season Wednesday as swaths of brown covered much of the mountainside beyond host Stein Eriksen Lodge’s outdoor terrace.
If the town’s ski executives and marketing officials are concerned about the warm weather that has persisted into mid-November, though, they didn’t show it. Park City Mountain Resort Chief Operating Officer Mike Goar reiterated that the ski area is on track to maintain its scheduled opening date of Nov. 22, telling the audience there is currently enough snow on the slopes to get some of the lifts turning.
Likewise, Bill Malone, president and CEO of the Chamber/Bureau, said in an interview that it’s still too early for the broader business community that relies on ski tourism to worry about the relative lack of snow. That’s particularly true, he said, because recent trends indicate visitors will come to Park City even when the on-mountain conditions are not optimal because of the town’s other offerings like shopping and dining.
“We’re not one of those places that, if the skiing’s not fantastic, don’t go there,” he said. “It’s still a great vacation no matter what. We’re pretty fortunate that we’re not just a one-trick pony.”
Todd Shallan, president and COO of Deer Valley Resort, also spoke at the event and at one point fielded an audience question about the status of Mayflower Mountain Resort, a planned ski area abutting Deer Valley near the Jordanelle Reservoir. Shallan said Deer Valley remains in contact with Mayflower’s developer, Extell Development Company, about operating the ski area but that no agreement has been reached.
“We’ll see how that goes,” Shallan said.
At another moment, Shallan also told the audience Deer Valley plans to spend approximately $75 million over the next five years on improvements on and off the mountain, including renovations of the resort’s day lodges.
Meanwhile, Goar provided an update about the planned development of the parking lots at the PCMR base area. PCMR owner Vail Resorts reached an agreement in April with Provo firm PEG Companies to develop the lots, and Goar said Wednesday that PEG is readying to share more details with the public about its plan for the area.
Woodward Park City General Manager Shaydar Edelmann also briefly addressed the gathering, indicating the action sports camp under construction on the hillside near Pinebrook still plans to open next month for its inaugural season.
The event was held as Park City’s business community ramps up for the annual influx of winter visitors. According to data Malone presented to the audience, projected visitation is tracking within roughly 1% of last year’s bookings for the core months of December through March but ski season’s bookend periods remain a little light.
In an interview, Malone said he’s surprised momentum from last winter’s record-setting season for snow and visitation hasn’t seemed to manifest itself in elevated lodging numbers, though there’s still time for that to change.
“I would have expected a little but more buoyancy coming off last year, the great amount of snow that we had,” he said. “But, you know, the industry is changing. So many people have season passes so far in advance from all over the country, there still is a great opportunity for us to convince people the best vacation is here.”
Last winter was a banner season for the ski industry both in Park City and across Utah, as the state eclipsed 5 million skier visits for the first time.
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